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« Actually, America Must "Lead from Behind" in East Asia | Main | Confucius in Church »

October 11, 2012

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Didn't read the article but the examples cited seem trivial quibles. Perhaps the quibles of a petty individual.

I don't know Confucius, what he was like, but neither does the writer but from what was so far cited it doesn't sway my view of him one way or the other.

However, if those are the worst of his "vices," even if he did have them, he is better than most.

As for the story in the Analects about Confucius turning away someone he dislikes with such style, that shows nothing to me about the quality of his character.

I happen to think that politeness isn't always a virtue. In fact, I think it's often a vice to be polite. Who would be polite next to a fervent Nazi? A coward or a sympathizer are two examples who clearly would. I think this culture and perhaps Chinese culture too places way too much emphasis on politeness as a virtue. It often hampers democratic processes. Focusing on things like "tone" of one's voice detracts from more substantive issues like strength of argument. I am nearly certain Confucius would agree with this view on politeness.

There are better stories about Confucius one could have used to demonstrate his "lack of civility." There's the story that he once hit one of his students over the head with a cane. Another story has him sentencing a man to death. These are almost certain apocryphal but not any worse as a source than some sources often used to describe him.

As for Confucius's divorce, it just seems presumptuous to put the blame on him without knowing. People get divorced for all sorts of reasons. This is the case today and was always the case. Blaming it on the moral failings of Confucius just seems like a bit of stretching.

And where does Lin get the idea that Confucius was an "epicurean"? That seems an incredibly odd thing to say. Confucius did not admire those who cared deeply about cloths and food. He admired people who didn't care if they ate course rice for the rest of their lives and wore rags but devoted their lives to studying and thinking, not in the "epicurean."

I really don't understand where this urge to denigrate Confucius comes from. If there were some real evidence of his vices and evidence of loathsome behaviors then I'd understand. He would deserve it. However, this urge from both the west and from some "intellectuals" in China just seems like character assasination, just stretching things to fit some kind of agenda or festering prejudice. They're indcredibly silly criticisms, often both groundless and trivial. I don't think that's even under dispute in it's obviousness. What is puzzling to me are the motives for it. I can more readily understand western peoples' urge to denigrate him but what is the motive for Chinese people? Are Chinese people that uneducated as to blame him for the backwardness of China for the last two centuries?

Made a related post recently here

http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2012/09/defaming-confucius/

meletaus
I do agree the incidents cited are trivail, but I think Lin Yutang was trying to put a sense of humor and may be push Confucius slightly off his pedestal. Whether you think the criticism is justified or not I do think his status as a saint was a hindrance to the modernization of China in early 20th century. Just as much as the status of Mao as beyond criticism today is a hindrance to reform in China today.

"I do agree the incidents cited are trivail, but I think Lin Yutang was trying to put a sense of humor and may be push Confucius slightly off his pedestal. Whether you think the criticism is justified or not I do think his status as a saint was a hindrance to the modernization of China in early 20th century. "

That's ridiculous. The Backwardness of China is because of the backwardness of the Chinese people and other factors too like famine and imperialism. They need to take some responsibility for part of that and not blame others who had no role in it and lived and died over 2000 years before the backwardness of China. That's how they can begin to advance.

"Just as much as the status of Mao as beyond criticism today is a hindrance to reform in China today."

This is also silly. Beyond criticism? Have you ever even been in China within the last 10 years? Many Chinese people have open criticisms against Mao in China today. I see it common everyday people. I see it in academics. I even heard politicians criticize Mao.

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